Architects and Advocates Predict Passive Revolution

Hundreds of architects, builders and advocates called for residential and commercial buildings of all sizes to consume 75 percent less energy in order to live up to so-called “passive house” standards at a convention yesterday.

The New York Passive House conference and expo at in the Flatiron district attracted both a local and international crowd of those interested in perfecting and popularizing the strict German specifications that make use of controlled ventilation, air-tight installation and innovative façade design to reduce energy costs and usage by massive amounts.

“If architecture is about generosity, then we are probably just doing our job,” said Sabrine Leribaux, an architect with a Brussels-based company called Architectes Associes that operates in a city where all new and significant renovations must adhere to passive standards starting in 2015, in a speech during the daylong event. She added afterwards, “You just have to lift that security lock. Passive house is not European. I grew up in Texas.”

Leribaux and Günter Lang, of the Vienna-based Lang Consulting, presented stunning pictures of completed passive house projects ranging from private homes to large-scale multifamily and commercial developments and passive office skyscrapers to show the prevalence of an architectural movement which they say is becoming the norm in Europe and ought to become the norm here in the city.


Read more here.


Passive House: also a maximum energy efficiency solution for hospitals

Key results of baseline study now available online on Passipedia

(Press Release, Passive House Institute, 21 May 2014)

Darmstadt, Germany. Hospitals are among the most energy-intensive of building types. Here too, the Passive House Standard provides a solution that results in considerable savings. The time is ripe to take advantage of this finding. In Germany, for example, many of the some 2000 hospitals are currently in need of refurbishment – likely a familiar situation in numerous countries. In the Hoechst district of Frankfurt an older hospital building is currently being replaced by a new build with a focus on maximum energy efficiency. The result will be the world’s first Passive House hospital. Critical issues regarding the execution of this project were elaborated in a baseline study commissioned by the State of Hesse (in German). A compilation of the overall key results of this study is now available online on Passipedia.

The Passive House concept is based on the fundamental idea of significantly reducing the demand for all energy applications while improving comfort at the same time. In a highly complex building such as a hospital, heating is only one of the many energy flows that exert influence. Efficient devices, whether in the form of lighting or medical equipment, not only save energy directly but also reduce the cooling demand at the same time. A hospital’s use profile also places specific demands on the building systems, with hygiene and thus the well-being of patients and staff being the top priority. Passive House proves promising especially in this regard.

Insulation measures are particularly worthwhile in hospital buildings on account of their high temperature requirements and almost continuous operation. Moreover, many areas in conventional hospitals are already equipped with ventilation technology, meaning that equipping the building with large scale controlled heat recovery ventilation is only a minimal addition. The baseline study shows that the heating demand can be limited to 15 kWh per square metre of useful space annually despite the higher indoor temperatures and average air exchange rates. Even at such a high level of energy performance, lighting, ventilation, hot water supply, heating, and cooling constitute the most energy intensive applications. Depending on the technical equipment used in the hospital, autoclaves, magnetic resonance tomography, and data processing can also contribute much to the total energy demand.

As some of the processes in a hospital generate waste heat, it stands to reason that as much of this waste heat as possible should be made use of in other processes, for example, in the heating system by means of a heat pump. Nevertheless, as the results of the baseline study show, the priority should always be given to the optimisation of the processes generating this waste heat. All told, the conditions for large-scale energy efficiency measures in hospitals are favourable; with the available technology, the energy demand can be reduced significantly in most areas. In view of the complexity of the energy flows though, consultation and involvement of all stakeholders at an early stage is essential.

In Frankfurt-Hoechst, a highly energy efficient new building will replace the old municipal hospital building. This new build will be executed to the Passive House Standard, in accordance with the Passive House resolution adopted by the City of Frankfurt. The baseline study, commissioned by the German State of Hesse and carried out by the Passive House Institute, draws, in many parts, on the preliminary planning for the new Frankfurt-Hoechst clinic.

Press Release as pdf:


Introductory articles (in English) on the topic of Passive House hospitals can now be found online in the knowledge database,


The full version of the baseline study, “Implementation of the Passive House concept in hospitals”, is available for download on the Passive House Institute website: (in German)

International Conference in Aachen shows solutions for maximum energy efficiency

Press Release, Passive House Institute, 30 April 2014:


“Once completed, a building often goes untouched over the course of decades; the energy standard to which it is designed or retrofitted is therefore crucial. At the 2014 International Passive House Conference in Aachen, Germany, which took place April 25-26, experts from all over the world showed how current construction practices can be made fit for the future. Recent progress on highly energy efficient building components has been ground breaking; several examples were presented at the accompanying exhibition.


“Energy efficient construction and refurbishment is getting less expensive each year and is thus becoming even more attractive for building owners,” explains Dr. Wolfgang Feist, Director of the Passive House Institute. The Component Award for windows, awarded at the conference in Aachen, demonstrates that considerable savings can be achieved with Passive House technology. “Investing in the energy efficiency of your own building is first and foremost a question of economic sense,” says Feist. “Improved comfort is an added benefit, as is the significant contribution to the fight against climate change.”

The fact that architecture itself also benefits from the Passive House concept was documented in Aachen with the bestowal of another prize. At the opening of the conference, six buildings and one region were recognised with the 2014 Passive House Award: an apartment block in Berlin (Germany), a New York retrofit (USA), a seminar building in Goesan (South Korea), an art museum in Ravensburg (Germany), a building complex in Espoo (Finland), a terraced house in Philadelphia (USA), and an entire Passive House district in Heidelberg (Germany). The Award was granted as part of the EU funded project PassREg (Passive House Regions with Renewable Energies) and further supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.

During the two day conference, almost one hundred expert lectures were held covering a wide range of topics, from the challenges presented by the construction of Passive House buildings in different climate zones to experience gained with Passive House supermarkets and indoor swimming halls. A special session, held within the framework of the EuroPHit project, focused on step by step retrofits of existing buildings, carried out over the course of years. Particular emphasis was given to developments that will substantially influence the building sector, such as the European Buildings Directive. The directive, stipulating that all buildings be designed as “Nearly Zero Energy Buildings” as of 2021, can be easily satisfied through a combination of Passive House and the use of renewable energies.


The Passive House Institute is preparing for this development with the introduction of new certification categories. In the future, not only the energy demand, but also energy generation on or near the building, for example, by means of photovoltaic systems, will be taken into consideration. In his concluding address, Dr. Feist unveiled a new method for the overall evaluation of building energy demand; a future-proof scenario in which the exclusive use of renewable energies connected via the power grid reigns serves as the reference.


The launch of designPH, the new 3D planning tool, met with great excitement, especially by the designers and architects amongst the some 1,000 conference visitors. The software, based on SketchUp, allows for the 3D input of energy-relevant design data – the building envelope and shading data is detected automatically and can be optimised as required. The result can then be exported into the globally established Passive House planning tool, the PHPP, with just a few clicks.

The International Passive House Conference, organised by the Passive House Institute, has been taking place at changing venues since 1997. This year’s conference was organised in cooperation with the City of Aachen and the EnergyAgency.NRW. A lively exhibition featuring manufacturers of energy efficient building components and other important industry stakeholders took place in parallel to the expert lectures. Further workshops and seminars were offered within the conference framework programme, which was rounded off with excursions to built Passive Houses in the region. The next International Passive House Conference will take place from 17 – 18 April 2015 in Leipzig (Germany).


Over a third of the total energy consumed in industrialised countries results from the operation of buildings, and most of this goes towards heating. This consumption can be reduced by up to 90 percent using Passive House technology. The remaining demand can be easily met with renewable energies. This standard is not only economically attractive, it also constitutes an important contribution to the energy revolution and climate protection.


Photos of the winners of the Passive House Award and the Component Award can be downloaded on:

Mamaroneck Passive House

“I have now been living in our brand new passive house for 3 weeks and wish to report my first impressions:

Peace, bliss, silence, fresh air, no draft, no headache: WOW, it actually does what it says on the box!

Mamaroneck Passive House

What was a bit destabilizing in the beginning is that you do not hear anything at all: no furnace igniting like a truck has started moving in your crawl space, no wind shaken windows that squeek and quack with stressful noises, no rain hammering on the roof like if it were simple glass, no noise at all… apart from the discrete purr of the new super energy efficient Bosch fridge in the kitchen and the “cracks” of the metal flu when the gas stove kicks in.When you move into an average house, you want to understand all its noises. In a passive house, it is the other way round: the ventilation is so silent that you want to put your hand in front of the venting intake grid to confirm it is working!  It is like living underwater or in a bubble where all outdoor sounds are muted. I finally can ignore lawn mowers, leaf blowers, garbage trucks, roofing works next door, and the police sirens on the Boston Post Road brought by western winds.  All this noise pollution that lands on our heads without our consent is now foreign to me and I do not miss it for a second!

The second main realization is the fact that there is no draft through the windows (my blinds used to fly in front of the old 1970’s Andersen double pane windows…), no blasting air whether you use the latest Mitsubishi Mr


Slim reversible heating/cooling mini splits or just the minimum required back up heat from the designful Jotul gas stove and Myson bathroom towel rails. The ventilation system is very smooth and it swirls around the house. Even with intake venting grids literally next to the master bed, you don’t feel the airflow coming in at all. It feels well balanced and fresh. In the old house, I used to wrap myself with shawls or polar fleece blankets and sit as close as possible to the heating vent (or as far as possible from the cooling one). Our living room was useless in summer (too hot) and in the middle of winter (too cold). Half of the house was not useable most of the year: what a waste!. Now, I can sit reading a book by the huge master window without even feeling a chill. I can sit wherever I want in the house and be extremely comfortable to the point that I have to go physically outside before I go out in order to know if I need a coat!

Last but not least, the house feels super healthy: I wake up in the morning without the urge of opening a window to ventilate: my indoor air is filtered and completely replaced with fresh outdoor air every 3 hours. The air does not feel dry compared to what it was with the former heating system and my sinuses are happy which relieves me from the splitting headaches I used to wake up with. A total bliss!

037-Kitchen-748223-printWhen you think we had to rebuild the whole house to get those basic benefits any homeowner should be entitled to, it is mind blowing. Why not change the old way of building so that everyone can enjoy it? If you add to the bliss the fact that everything operates at the touch of a button and that, thanks to my super insulated building and solar panels, my current gas + electricity bills are $40 a month covering the uncompressible distribution cost Coned charges, then you have an idea of what it is to live in a heavenly house.

When you taste Passive House, you never go back. Trust me.”


Veronique Leblanc

Homeowner of Mamaroneck Passive House


Gain free access to the iPHA Forum

Through our affiliation with the International Passive House Association, New York Passive House members are also iPHA members. Access to the Forum is included as a member benefit. Now iPHA is expanding access to include PassREg members. See their press release below:

Where Passive House Stakeholders meet
The forum of the International Passive House Association (iPHA) serves as the international gathering place for discussions on all things Passive House.

Traditionally a special benefit for iPHA members, the iPHA forum is the place to connect with other energy efficiency experts and Passive House practitioners worldwide and get your Passive House questions.

In addition to the 2,500 iPHA members worldwide that enjoy access to the forum, PassREg members too will also get access.

The great news: becoming a PassREg member is absolutely free!


Supporting the growth of Passive House regions towards an EU energy revolution

PassREg is an EU-funded project that aims to trigger the successful implementation of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEBs), using Passive House supplied as much as possible by renewable energies as the foundation.

Becoming a PassREg member is both free and easy – in addition to access to the iPHA Forum, PassREg members are listed on the PassREg website and get occasional updates on the project outcomes (if desired).


iPHA Membership

Reap all the benefits of iPHA membership

iPHA membership comes with far more than access to the iPHA Forum…

Passipedia, the Passive House resource, provides iPHA members with a constantly growing, interactive body of specialized Passive House knowledge.

Presentation in an online member database, featuring Passive House experts, regional organizations other Passive House stakeholders worldwide.

Regular newsletters, which keep iPHA members up to date on Passive House developments.

Discounts on Passive House Institute services and events, such as the upcoming International Passive House Conference and the designPH, the new 3D modelling tool for the PHPP.

Special access to a diverse array of Passive House materials in the iPHA member area, including presentations by Dr. Feist and others.

Interested in becoming a member? Find out about our membership conditions or become a member through one of iPHA’s Affiliate organizations.


This is a limited time offer. iPHA retains the right to discontinue forum access to PassREg members after the project’s end in spring, 2015.

The sole responsibility for the content of this email lies with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union. Neither the EACI nor the European Commission are responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

BuildingEnergy NYC 14 Request for Proposals is now open!





We are happy to  announce that NESEA is now accepting proposals for  BE NYC 14, scheduled for October 16th, 2014 at the Time Life Center.

They will be accepting proposals until Friday, April 25. Please note that they will not be offering workshops at BE NYC this year, so all proposals submitted must be for 90 minute sessions.

You can find more information and start a proposal by clicking here.

Free screening: “Passive House Revolution”, Mon. April 14 in LIC

Free Screening of Documentary on Super-Efficient Buildings, Monday, April 14, 7 PM Coffeed, 37-18 Northern Blvd., LIC, NY 11101

Note: This is a Resilience NYC Meetup Event – register here.

Resilience NYC Meetup hosts a free screening of documentary “Passive House Revolution,” its NYC premiere. Special guest after the screening is architect Tom Paino, who turned his LIC home into a super-efficient but controversial Passive House.

It’s part of a series of sustainability film screening and discussion events this spring at Coffeed Cafe, on the second Monday of each month at 7 PM. Coffeed, downstairs from the famous Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm, is providing free coffee and home-baked pastries for the events.

Buildings use nearly 50% of all energy used in North America today. The Passive House standard has been spreading across Europe for 20 years, a set of practices for building and retrofitting structures that use 80% less heating and cooling energy than average, much less than those from LEED-certified buildings, a green building standard common in the US. Climate scientists say we need to reduce our CO2 emissions by 80% as quickly as possible. Spreading the Passive House standard will be an important part of our response to climate change.

Following the screening, we’ll hear from architect Tom Paino, who renovated his Long Island City row house to become the first Passive House in Queens. As the NY Daily News and Queens Brownstoner noted, some Queens residents found the dramatic black, grey and white tile facade to be unattractive. However, the project was hailed in an extensive and positive review by US Dept. of Homeland Security.

There will be a facilitated discussion about how to make our neighborhoods more sustainable and more resilient. A resource guide with links to existing NYC programs will be provided.

Component Award proves Passive House windows profitable

Twelve winners to be honoured at the International Passive House Conference

(Press Release, Passive House Institute, 3 April 2014)

Darmstadt, Germany. The winners of the first ever Passive House Component Award have been selected and a total of twelve Passive House windows will receive recognition. The real winners, however, are the building owners, for the results of this international competition demonstrate that it is possible to save money with highly efficient building components. Manufacturers offered their products at retail prices including installation for an example building. For each of the four categories, “PVC,” “Wood,” “Wood/Aluminium,” and “Aluminium,” the overall investment and energy costs saved in comparison with standard windows were the decisive factor. The Award will be presented at the International Passive House Conference taking place from 25 to 26 April in Aachen, Germany.

In the “Wood” category, the joint first place winners are the Slovenian manufacturer M Sora for their Natura Optimo XL window and the German window company Pfeffer for their Pfeffer RPS window. The Holz-2-Holz window by Freisinger-Optiwin of Austria took second place. In the “Wood/Aluminium” category, the Smartwin Compact by Lorber-pro Passivhausfenster of Austria and the Futura by Bieber-Optiwin of France came in on top, followed by Freisinger-Optiwin again, this time with the Alu-2-Holz window.

The first prize in the “PVC” category went to German producer Hilzinger FBS GmbH for their VADB-Plus 550 window. The Pural eco 90 by Pural GmbH and the Frame 90 WI by Raico, both from Germany, were the winners in the “Aluminium” category. Special prizes went to German producers Passivhaus Transfer (dHPt), for their Delta Plus Cold Climate window (“Wood/Fibreglass, Synthetics”), Wiegand Fensterbau, for the glazing set in the DW-plus systems (“Innovative Glazing”), and Pazen Fenster + Technik, for their ENERsign arctis (“Lowest Heat Losses”).

“We are delighted at the level of active participation in the competition and congratulate the winners,” declares Dr. Wolfgang Feist, Scientific Director of the Passive House Institute – organiser of the Component Award competition. A total of 41 entries made it clear that Passive House windows are very attractive financially for building owners. “Overall cost savings of more than 25 percent, spread over the life span of the winning products, are possible. With Passive House quality products, the energy revolution becomes not only affordable, but even profitable.”

“Energy efficient, high quality components are an essential building block for the success of Passive House. It is important that these products provide not only convenience and comfort, but also economic advantages. We have proven this with this Award,” says Dr. Benjamin Krick, Head of Component Certification at the Passive House Institute.

The prizes will be presented by Dr. Wolfgang Feist at the Eurogress in Aachen. Many of the prize-winning windows will be exhibited by the manufacturers at the accompanying Component Exhibition which will take place from 25 to 26 April 2014, parallel to the International Passive House Conference. Further information can be found online on:

Press Release as pdf:

Benjamin Wünsch
Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Passivhaus Institut, Rheinstr. 44/46, 64283 Darmstadt
Tel +49(0)6151/826 99-25
Fax +49(0)6151/826 99-34

Internationale Passivhaustagung
25. bis 26. April 2014 in Aachen

Tage des Passivhauses
8. bis 10. November 2013

International Passive House Association
Promoting the Passive House Standard worldwide

New York and Philadelphia Projects among Finalists for Passive House Award 2014

Designers from around the world are honored as finalists for the international Passive House design award, including our friends in Brooklyn, Long Island, and Philadelphia.



Passive House Award 2014: Finalists confirmed


Winners will be announced at the Passive House Conference in Aachen

(Press Release, Passive House Institute, 28 March 2014)

Darmstadt, Germany. The finalists of the Passive House Award 2014 have again proved that world-class architecture and the Passive House Standard complement each other perfectly. An international jury made the final selection from approximately one hundred submissions. The winners in a total of six categories will be announced on 25 April in Aachen, Germany, at the 2014 International Passive House Conference. A list of all finalists can now be viewed on


The jury selected seven buildings in the category Office and Special Use Buildings: the RHW.2 Passive House high rise in Vienna (ARGE Atelier Hayde / Architektur Maurer & Partner); the Natural Heritage Centre on the German island of Rügen (Architekt Stöger); an artist studio in Long Island, New York (Ryall Porter Sheridan Architects); an extension of the Maximilianeum in Munich (Léon Wohlhage Wernik); the Syd Energi headquarters in the Danish city of Esbjerg (GPP Arkitekter A/S); the Kunstmuseum in German historical town of Ravensburg (Lederer Ragnarsdóttir Oei Architekten); and the Correctional Centre in Korneuburg, Austria (Arge Dieter Mathoi Architekten & DIN A4 Architektur).


The finalists in the category of Single Family Homes hail from Auckland, New Zealand (Jessop Architects); Sint-Niklaas, Belgium (BLAF architects); Espoo, Finland (Kimmo Lylykangas Architects); and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, USA (Plumbob). The Apartment Building category saw finalists located in Hamburg (Huke-Schubert Berge Architekten), Munich (Allmann Sattler Wappner Architekten), and Berlin (Deimel Oelschläger Architekten Partnerschaft), Germany.


Three projects in the Educational Buildings category made it into the finals: the Riedberg Secondary School inFrankfurt, Germany (Ackermann+Raff); a seminar and apartment building in Goesan, South Korea(ArchitekturWerkstatt Vallentin); and the Montessori School in Aufkirchen, Germany (ArchitekturWerkstatt Vallentin, R. Grotz, R. Loibl, H. Walbrunn). The jury also selected three finalists from the retrofit projects submitted: a terraced house in London (Paul Davis+Partners), an office building in the French town of Saint-Étienne (Atelier d’architecture Rivat), and a terraced brownstone in Brooklyn, New York (Fabrica718 / Studio Cicett Architect).


In addition to the 20 individual buildings that made it to the finals, a Passive House Region, favoured by the majority of the jurors, was directly chosen as a winner in the Urban Planning category. This project will also be honoured with the Passive House Award at the International Passive House Conference. An important aspect of this particular project, as with all the winners, was its emphasis on the Passive House Standard in conjunction with the use of renewable energies – an approach that fits with the “Nearly Zero-Energy Building” of the European Building Directive.


The 2014 Passive House Award has been put on by the Passive House Institute under the patronage of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and within the framework of the EU project PassREg (Passive House Regions with Renewable Energies). Certification verifying compliance with the Passive House Standard (or EnerPHit Standard in the case of retrofits) was a prerequisite for participation. The jury was thus free to focus solely on the architectural design of the projects in its evaluation.
Passive House Award Ceremony, Friday, 25 April (10:15am in the opening plenary)

Passive House Award press conference thereafter; Venue: Eurogress Aachen

Press Release as pdf:

On request we can also send you photos in high resolution.


Benjamin Wünsch
Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Passivhaus Institut, Rheinstr. 44/46, 64283 Darmstadt
Tel +49(0)6151/826 99-25
Fax +49(0)6151/826 99-34

Internationale Passivhaustagung
25. bis 26. April 2014 in Aachen

Tage des Passivhauses
8. bis 10. November 2013

International Passive House Association
Promoting the Passive House Standard worldwide

AAVs (Air Admittance Valves)





Venting of plumbing fixtures has been a standard in the design and construction of plumbing systems in New York City buildings for almost a century. Vented plumbing stacks are required to maintain a water seal in a fixture’s trap, the U-shaped section of pipe below a sink, which creates an air lock that prevents the entrance of sewer gasses. Without the trap’s water seal, noxious gasses would make their way up through your pipes, out of the fixtures, and into your home.

When a toilet is flushed or sinks and tubs drain water, this water travels down the sewer pipe. Without a vent pipe, a vacuum effect would result which would draw all the water down from the trap, allowing the noxious gasses to pass through. Traditionally, venting is achieved via a second pipe connected to the sewer stack – the vent pipe. It allows air in above the trap, equalizing the pressure on both sides of the trap, thereby allowing it to hold water and keep sewer gasses out of the building.

The function and construction of a typical vent stack system has remained the standard in NYC for about a century. However, in this age of increased awareness of energy efficiency and building performance, there are now products and technologies that give us better functional performance, simplify construction and increase energy efficiency. Air Admittance Valves (AAVs) are one of such products we feel outperforms the typical vent stack system.

Air admittance valves are pressure-activated, one-way valves that can be used in place of typical vent stack systems. The AAV is a non-mechanical valve that is located just above the fixture’s drain, fitting within a bathroom vanity or cabinet, out of view. It eliminates the need for a second vent pipe, reducing construction costs while increasing usable space.


Sans titre 3

On a larger building-wide scale, fewer vents result in fewer exterior roof penetrations. A typical plumbing vent system requires numerous roof penetrations, which compromise the building’s thermal! envelope (and each require additional insulation/air-sealing work). Additionally, one less vent per stack results in a smaller shaft and more usable square footage (and less air-sealing work). Furthermore, fewer vents result in less potential for leaks or failure.

Although not in New York City, AAVs have been used for decades and allowed in practically all US jurisdictions as a suitable alternative to plumbing stacks. The construction cost savings of eliminating vent stacks, penetration waterproofing, and airsealing stacks can be reinvested into improving the building envelope. The reduction in energy use from a high performance thermal envelope will provide cost savings throughout the life of the building: a win for both the owners and the city as a whole.

Over many years, Air Admittance Valves have been a proven method to improve upon the use of typical vent stack systems both in energy efficiency and construction cost. NYPH are currently working with the Urban Green Council to provide documentation to the NYC Department of Buildings to get permission for AAVs to be used in NYC construction.


On April 9th, NYPH will hold a presentation on AAVs, more information and sign up HERE.


Stas Stas Zakrzewski is principal architect at zh-architects, is passionate about beautifully composed high performance buildings and believes in the increasing importance of designing energy sensitive and sustainable projects.

Twitter @zh-architects

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